A stunning number of people are prone to conspiracy theories.
Approximately half of all Americans believe in medical conspiracy theories. New survey results show that many Americans believe in at least one medical-related conspiracy theory.
Nearly one third of Americans believe that the Food and Drug Administration is purposefully preventing natural cures for cancer from entering the market due to pressure from pharmaceutical companies, according to results from a recent survey.
In addition, twenty percent of individuals who took the survey said that they believed that cellphones cause cancer. These survey participants also think that large corporations are preventing health officials from solving the problem.
An additional twenty percent of survey participants believe that physicians and the government pressure vaccinations for children despite knowing that vaccines can cause autism.
Eric Oliver, study leader and professor of political science at the University of Chicago, said, “One of the things that struck us is that people who embrace these beliefs are not less health conscious.” He continued, “They’re just less likely to embrace traditional medicine.”
Oliver believes that this is because conspiracy theories are easier to understand and process than complicated medical information.
He explained, “Science in general – medicine in particular – is complicated and cognitively challenging because you have to carry around a lot of uncertainty.” Oliver continued, “To talk about epidemiology and probability theories is difficult to understand as opposed to ‘if you put this substance in your body, it’s going to be bad.'”
For the study, researchers used data from 1,351 adults who completed an online survey between August and September 2013. The researchers then weighted the data to represent the country’s population.
Participants in the study read six popular medical conspiracy theories, then made a note of whether or not they had heard of them, and if they agreed or disagreed with the theories.
The researchers found that those who believed in conspiracies were generally more likely to rely on alternative medicine rather than traditional medicine.